Writing to your MP...
Writing to your MP is really easy, and could make a massive difference in making this law a reality! Just go to www.writetothem.com and put in your postcode. We've drafted an example letter below to give you some ideas:
I am writing to urge you to support ‘Hillsborough Law’ (The Public Authorities (Accountability) Bill 2017). After the conclusion of the second Hillsborough inquests in April 2016 the families called for a lasting legacy to prevent other families having to go through what they had suffered over more than 27 years. The Bill codifies duties of candour on public authorities and officials and private entities that are public-facing, such as owners of sports stadia, shopping malls or social housing. If enacted, the law would require that officials would have to come clean about wrongdoing and failures and cooperate proactively with investigations, inquiries and inquests. The draft law provides victims and their families with a legal ‘toolbox’ to enforce such transparency, and new criminal offences would apply to senior managers who wilfully failed to comply or covered-up institutional and individual failures. The law requires institutions to have ethical policies and it would empower ordinary officials to require their organisations and managers to be transparent. The second part of the Bill provides for parity of provision for victims with the public authorities involved in inquests and inquiries.
The Bill was presented to Parliament on 29 March 2017 for its first reading and passed without opposition and with cross-party support. In recent years there has been parliamentary consensus on Hillsborough and the families made clear that the law could only be advanced with real cross-party support. Its formal sponsors included Andy Burnham MP (Lab), Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Con), Tim Farron MP (then leader LibDem), Caroline Lucas (co-leader Greens), the SNP and SDLP.
The struggle of the Hillsborough families for truth and justice has been epic but it is not unique. The bereaved families of the Birmingham Pub bombings, the victims of the Blood Contamination scandal and the Child Abuse Inquiry are all examples of where official failures have arisen and may have been covered-up. The recent appalling tragedy at Grenfell once again highlights the urgent need for a candour law to ensure truth and justice prevail over institutional defensiveness and the culture of denial which has been shown to pervade various disasters and scandals. In the aftermath of mass loss of life, various organisations immediately put out statements of condolence but also included immediate denial of responsibility. Hillsborough Law would require the public authorities - the Council, the Fire Authority, Government - and the privatised management company, the architects, various building contractors and sub-contractors, to cooperate fully with the police, Coroner and other official inquiries. The proposed law would ensure full disclosure and proactive acceptance of wrongdoing and failures. It would also enable the families to challenge lack of candour before relevant tribunals and courts and would ensure they had proper representation.
The text of the Bill, its Explanatory Note, and video clips from some of the Hillsborough families can be viewed at www.thehillsboroughlaw.com. Following the Hillsborough Inquests, Theresa May announced an inquiry by the Right Reverend James Jones, former Bishop of Liverpool, into lessons that could be learned, and referred the draft Hillsborough Law for his consideration. The Bishop’s Report was submitted to the Prime Minister on 20 June 2017. It is anticipated that the Report will be published soon and that it will support the enactment of Hillsborough Law. The families are therefore calling for as many people as possible to indicate their support for the Bill so that it can be advanced with consensus and passed into law at the earliest opportunity.
The families of those who died in the Hillsborough Disaster have spent 27 years fighting not only for justice for their loved ones, but so that what happened to them can never happen again. Hillsborough Law has been carefully drafted and widely publicised. It has widespread support across the country and is not partisan. I hope that you will reflect on the urgent need for such a law and lend your support to bring this Bill into law. Specifically I ask that you indicate that your name should be added to the list of the Bill’s supporters on the website.
I look forward to your response.